French President François Hollande has visited French troops in Iraq. He arrived in Baghdad on 2nd January, meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum and prime minister Haider Al-Abadi. Hollande had previously travelled to Iraq in September 2014, shortly before the start of Operation Chammal — the French contribution to US-led military operations against ISIL.
The French President also travelled to Erbil in the Kurdistan region and visited positions close to the front line in Mosul, where ISIS continues to resist coalition-backed Iraqi forces seeking to retake the city.
Hollande was joined by defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, following a visit to Prince Hassan Air Base (H5) in Jordan, home to French Rafale combat aircraft.
Hollande recalled the 6,130 Iraqi troops trained by French personnel since March 2015. During Operation Chammal, French forces have performed a total of 5,792 missions over Iraq and Syria, carrying out over 1,000 strikes against ISIS positions. The operation involves 1,200 troops, 14 Rafale combat aircraft, four Caesar self-propelled howitzers, along with temporary deployment of an ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft, a C-135Fr in-flight refuelling tanker and an Awacs early warning aircraft.
The French Navy has also twice deployed a carrier battle group to the region in support of Chammal.